Year End Bonuses
In a struggling economy, some businesses prefer to offer lower wages, but higher bonuses at the end of the year based on the employee’s performance. With the volatile job market, employees often wonder, “What if I am laid off before the end of the year?” “Do I still get my bonus?”
The answer to this question will likely depend on a few factors. First, was there a clause in the employment contract which states that the bonus will not be paid if the employee is terminated or laid off by the end of the year? If there is, the employee is likely not entitled to receive his or her bonus. If there is no such language, then the employee is entitled to believe that completing the year was not a requirement to receiving the bonus. Therefore, he or she will likely have a claim for the bonus.
In addition to looking for the specific clause above, an employee should also look through the agreement to see if there is any ambiguous language regarding the bonus. If there is, then the ambiguity will likely be resolved in the employee’s favor because it will be construed against the drafting party, the employer.
Every employee’s situation will be specific to the facts in his or her case. If you have specific questions, please contact Tim Pauley at 206-583-0050. He is an experienced attorney in the fields of employment law, particularly non-payment of wages and/or overtime.